The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, August 21, 2003  

She’s Just a Dog, For Christ’s Sake.
Or Is She?
In Defense of the Best Bulldog Ever.

Okay, so I know earlier today I took some mild offense when Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Beth Gillin suggested one of the primary topics of conversation here at Rittenhouse is my Bulldog, Mildred, so it is with at least some sense of sheepishness, I present, herewith, a post about, well, Mildred.

You know, nothing, or almost nothing, pisses me off more than when a stranger, or a near stranger, who sees my beloved Mildred on the street or elsewhere, takes it upon him or herself to issue the verdict, no jury involved, that Mildred is fat.

Now, as I’ve said before, Mildred, throughout her life, has had to deal, as many other women have, with those “pesky extra five pounds,” though, as I’ve also said before, in Mildred’s case, it’s more like those “pesky extra ten pounds.”

Look, she’s dealing with it as best she can, as am I. But I couldn’t care less, as least from an aesthetic point of view. So she’s, uh, full-figured, curvaceous, Rubenesque, if you will. I don’t care. To me, she’s nothing less than gorgeous.

To me, she is the most beautiful thing God ever created. And I sure as hell don’t care when some steroidally über-“masculated” trainer-by-profession who lives in my building calls Mildred “a hippo” [!!!] -- this from a man who is regularly seen walking at least one, and sometimes two, yapping and totally annoying, little Chihuahuas. [Ed.: Note to self: You’re going to get lots of e-mail.]

Remember that beautiful phrase in the Bible about God having numbered every hair on our heads? (Good, because I can’t find it now, though I’m sure an obliging reader will send me the chapter and verse.) I never really understood that statement, despite the fact that it was read from the dais rather frequently while I was away from the Catholic Church and attending Christian Science services.

And yet one night, while trying to get to sleep, I was staring at Mildred, who aways sleeps on my bed, and who was, of course, already sleeping, and, of course, snoring heavily, and I looked at her hands. (Actually, her “front paws,” as one of her veterinarians corrected me when I “mistakenly” referred to a condition as having affected Mildred’s “hands and feet.” Oops!)

Anyway, as I was looking at the underside of her front hands/paws, I noticed the beautiful arrangement of each and every hair on the underside of said hand/paw.

It was, to me at least, a miraculous moment. And the Bible’s talk of numbered hairs suddenly made sense. It was so beautiful, so perfect, so amazing. There is, truly, a God, I thought. And God made Mildred. And God made Mildred perfect, and God made Mildred perfectly, those “pesky ten pounds” notwithstanding.

Sadly, my church teaches that Mildred has a legitimate soul but not an immortal soul, and thus, if they’re right about that, and, sorry, Catholic as I try to be, I believe there’s a good chance they’re wrong, Mildred and I will not share eternity together. There is not a point, a sentence, a phrase, nor a clause in either the Catechism nor the Magisterium that I hope is more misguided or misinformed.

So, there you have it, readers, for what it is or isn’t worth, yet another post about my dog Mildred.

[Post-publication addendum (August 23): This afternoon I found the reference in the Bible to God having counted all the hairs on our heads. Actually, the reference appears in two different places, in slightly different forms, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In conveying this particular message, Jesus Christ was teaching his followers about the need to maintain courage in the face of persecution. But in doing so he reminded his listeners that each of them is special, unique, and beloved in the eyes of God:

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31; New American Bible.)

And as conveyed by St. Luke:

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of you head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7; NAB.)

I feel better now. That was really kind of bugging me.]

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